BEND, Ore. - A skiing accident years ago changed one man's life forever, but he's found a new, rewarding path that has him hitting the road on a long bike journey with his family, for a special cause -- and with a special message.
"I went skiing at Mt. Bachelor with my brother-in-law, and I came off a jump wrong, landed on my neck and shattered my C7 vertebrae," Nathan Ogden said Sunday. "I was instantly paralyzed."
Nathan's wife, Heather, is from Bend, and they were visiting her family. The Meridian, Idaho couple had been married for four years and had two young children when the accident left him paralyzed.
He was 26 years old when he was diagnosed as a quadriplegic. But he stayed positive and and was confident he could walk again.
However, a year after the accident, he became sick -- and while getting an X-ray, he fell off the gurney, and broke his neck again. He said that's when he became truly paralyzed -- not just physically, but mentally as well.
"We call it 'frozen.' So we like to live our lives unfrozen," Nathan said. "It was a tough time to grasp, 'Do I want to live life again, in a different way than what I dreamt it to be?'"
It's now been 15 years since the accident, and Nathan said the life he enjoys now would not be possible without the love and support of his family.
Nathan and Heather have been married 20 years now and have four children.
A few months ago, Heather came up with the idea to help raise money for wheelchairs to be delivered in other countries, where people might not have access to them.
"I just kept thinking, 'Man, we haven't done something with our family in a while,'" Heather said. "To just think more about others and give back and make a difference."
So Nathan, Heather and their children, ages 10 to 18, are about to bike 1,200 miles to L.A. in relay style, raising awareness and hopefully $100,000 for their wheelchair foundation.
Nathan will use adaptive gloves that clip onto a hand-powered bike. He only has limited movement in a few shoulder muscles and up. He cannot move anything below his shoulders.
But he said this bike ride is not about him. It's about the people who they're raising money for and who need wheelchairs.
He said he wants people to have a choice, and when something bad happens, to not give up on your dreams, just find a new way to get there.
The whole family wants this bike ride to show anyone can keep going, even when it's hard.
The Ogden family are set to leave from Mt. Bachelor Monday morning and hopes to bike into Los Angeles on July 21, making a few stops along the way, while encouraging everyone to follow their journey and help other people, whenever and however they can.
If you would like to learn more or donate, visit their website at chairthehope.com.